The First Week In Virginia

Well guys, we finally made it! The rv got moved, and the younger kids and I made the two day trip to Virginia!

It has been a whirlwind of emotions over the past two weeks, to say the least! Packing and leaving Florida was not only physically draining, but was also emotionally rough as well! We said our goodbyes to our family and friends, loading everything up and began the first leg of the trip, which was from central Florida to Cartersville, Georgia (which is in the Northwestern part of the state).

Our “adopted” family (longtime close family friends) The Langford’s (Bill and Renee) hosted us, as well as “Nana” (Renee’s mom).

We stayed the night there to recharge and reboot for the second half of the trip.

BUT… we couldn’t leave on Sunday before having some of Bill’s famous BBQ at his new restaurant “Fire It Up BBQ and Grill” in Cartersville. If you ever find yourself in this area of the state, you have to visit Bill’s new family-friendly, down-home, southern-cafeteria-style restaurant. It is absolutely the best BBQ in the state! Not to even mention the mouth-watering peach cobbler or the heavenly macaroni and cheese!

I was so happy that my little brother,Mike, was able to drive over to visit with us. The kids and I were so happy to see him!

After lunch and fellowship we began the last half of our trek to Virginia. This second leg was much more exciting than the first since we’ve made the trip through my home state of Georgia many times, but we’ve only visited Virginia once (about five years ago).

Our excitement grew and grew as the roads began to twist and turn and we went higher and higher in elevation.

We finally arrived late in the evening, just as the sun was going down over the horizon. Since the rv was delivered the night before our arrival, Kris and Mike had already set up and unpacked it for us! We don’t have a vehicle able to pull our travel trailer just yet, but our sweet friends at Sonshine RV Rentals (in Deland FL) offered to haul it from central Florida all the way to its new home in Virginia. Speaking of home, it is such a great feeling to move to a whole new state, open the door, and already be “home”. It makes moving such a breeze! As many times as I’ve moved I really wish I would’ve gotten hip to RV life much sooner! It really cuts down on the hassle and stress of relocating multiple times.

This week has been so enjoyable! The first full day of our arrival we visited our property, which will be the land we are clearing and preparing over the next few months.

This place is pure heaven on earth! It is so beautiful and robust with life. The peace felt here is indescribable. And my imagination runs wild and free with everything it could be.

Over the last half of this week we explored one of the nearby town, Farmville. It is so cute and country!

The people are very friendly and polite, a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle city-flow of central Florida. We have enjoyed long slow drives through the rolling hills and beautiful scenery of country homes and farms in place of stop lights and honking traffic. I feel like I can finally breathe again!

Sitting on the front porch, listening to the birds and frogs chirping and croaking, I realized how much I have truly missed this slow life. I spent most of my teen and young adult life running as far from the country life as possible, but I’ve had such a deep desire the past few years to return here and take it slow! In some sort of sixth sense, or Devine revelation, I have felt the call back to the earth- to get close with nature again, and to SLOW DOWN! I honestly feel like there is something healing in this place that my intelligence can’t explain, but I can feel that truth deep inside myself.

On the other hand, there has been one bump in the road: we don’t have any cellular reception. Of course, this has many positive repercussions that we have enjoyed, but when it comes to this blog and our YouTube channel, we are struggling to figure out a work around. Please give us some grace in this area as we come up with a working plan to remain consistent.

Today, we are driving to the nearest town library to use the WiFi to download our photos and videos and uploading some content. God willing, you will be reading this post sometime Thursday evening! – And even more hopefully, we will have our newest video uploaded to YouTube by Sunday.

We are so excited to share this new journey with you! I hope that you will come along with us as we navigate this new life! (to read more about what we are doing, please click here)

Much Love,

Brandy

The Ugly- RV Living

First, let me just say that I feel like the good far outweighs the bad at this point, however, we can’t just gloss over the negative things because that would paint a false picture of how life is really going. I told you from the start that I would be brutally honest. In my last post I talked about the things that I love about living in a small space. So here it is-

The Ugly: What I Hate About RV Life

1. We’re always right on top of each other. I know that I had this, in a sense, as a positive note in my last post, but the fact remains that being together ALL THE TIME can sometimes be a little….. Well…. annoying.

The “master bedroom” is only about four to five steps away from the couch. (The picture above was taken from me laying in my bed looking out of our bedroom door into the kitchen/living room area.) And yes, that’s a great thing for me when I’m not feeling well so that I can still be a part of everything going on (you can read more about my health issues here and here)… but sometimes it’s not such a good thing. Sometimes we just need our own space and time to be alone. It’s hard to get any privacy when you’re a mere three feet away from the zoo that is happening outside of your “bedroom door”! There’s no escaping chaos living in a tiny house. You are forced to deal with it head on (which is both a positive and a negative).

Sometimes you’re grouchy.

Sometimes you just want to be left alone.

Sometimes you just need 10 minutes by yourself.

In rv life with kids that’s not always the easiest thing to deal with! And there’s no dressing that up and making it pretty.

2. Getting a small space cleaned up is easy. It takes just a few minutes. (Which was also one of my good points). BUT, keeping it clean is a whole different beast!

The problem with tiny spaces is how fast it turns into a train wreck! Dishes in the sink and a few items on the counter makes the whole kitchen a total mess! If just a couple of items aren’t put back into their rightful places, the whole thing looks like trash. There’s no way to get around that. And that brings me to-

3. Finding a home for everything can be pretty difficult! Our travel trailer is small. It doesn’t have enough storage space for all of us. Before we moved in here we culled MAJOR, but even after moving in we’ve had to go back through a few times and continue to pare down. Finding a specific home for each item is absolutely necessary- but difficult!

4. THE SHAKING!!! It’s probably not something you’ve thought about unless you have gone camping in one of these things… but if you’re laying in bed and someone gets up to go to the bathroom- you feel it! And I don’t mean like a little- you feel the whole house bounce with each step! It’s kind of a good thing when you’re trying to get the kids to sleep to be able to immediately know if someone is playing around, but feeling like you’re on a waterbed all the time can get on your nerves!

5. The thing you’re always curious about, but too afraid to ask about

Parental Alone Time

That’s probably the biggest thing we don’t like.

It’s very difficult to be alone together and have some privacy when needed. Without being inappropriate or over-sharing, I’ll just say that you have to be a little creative to work this out and it can be frustrating (pun intended). But it’s a fact of life, and so there’s always a way!

Well, friend, I hope this gave you a look into the ugly side.

Stay in touch and keep up with us by subscribing to this blog and following us on Instagram (#krisandbrandy).

Much Love,

Brandy

Click the link to read my last post about the good things that I love about rv living “First Month In The RV- living in a tiny house with chronic illness

And here is a follow up video of the kids and Kris giving their opinion on life in the rv

First Month In The RV- living in a tiny house with chronic illness

The month of April has come and gone. We’ve survived! We finished the house remodel, moved into the rv, celebrated Elijah’s birthday, and finally got settled in where we’re staying (a sweet friend is allowing us to park on their beautiful property that is in the city, but feels like the country. It even has a private pond and lots of running space!)

The Lord has been faithful and we have been able to rest and relax a bit. (You can see more about how everything went by clicking this link.)

April was very busy, and a little stressful, but has rounded out quite well. We are so grateful for how everything came together!

How Are We Doing In The Rv?

Well, let me explain first by letting you know that it is NOT a big luxury rv… no, it’s a modest 26 ft pull-behind travel trailer , but it serves us well!

I’m sure that not all of us feel the same way I do, but honestly, I LOVE IT!

Yes we’re cramped.

Yes, our bunkhouse got messed up (read about that here) and we had to adapt and overcome.

Yes, the “kitchen” is the tiniest thing ever, lol.

And Yes, the “living room” is also a bedroom at the moment.

So why am I enjoying myself so much??

  1. We spend a lot more time together! Living in a small space forces us to interact with each other more. There’s not enough space for kids to hide out in their individual bedrooms with their noses stuck in their devices. (That goes for us adults as well 😊). Plain old boredom has been a useful tool in helping us connect, and I’m loving it!

Who wouldn’t be happy spending time with the best kids ever?!

2. In the “old house” I would walk out of my room, past two of the kids’ rooms, down the hallway, past the guest bathroom, and through the living room-just to get to the kitchen. On really bad days that walk was impossible. I would be trapped in my room while life went on without me in the rest of the house. Not only that, but on bad days that I could manage to get to get to the kitchen I would be so overwhelmed by all the things I would see that needed to be done… and the negative self-talk would begin. There wasn’t much I could do to make it better and the rest of the family already had to pull most of my weight on house duties whenever I would have a flare up, so I would eventually get so frustrated with myself that I would just try to ignore the mess and do what I could, which wasn’t always much.

Here in the travel trailer no matter how bad I’m feeling I can at least make it the four steps from my bed to the couch everyday! (I haven’t had a severe flare up yet, PRAISE GOD).

But the thing I love the most…..

I Can Keep It Clean! It only takes about 30 minutes to deep clean this baby! (I’m doing a little dance every time I say that). But seriously, I feel like I got a new chance to feel accomplished about something….

Living with chronic illness can really get you frustrated with your life and truthfully a little judgmental against yourself. Again, in the old house I would get overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. It had nine rooms all together (you can see the house here if you’re interested)

In the smaller (much smaller) space of the travel trailer I can get everything cleaned (well cleaned!) in a short amount of time.

Each morning, after breakfast, I send the kids outside for about a half hour to get out their energy before school and so I can tidy up. I do the dishes, clean the counters, stove and sink. I am able to straighten up the bathroom and couch and sweep the floors! Granted, it is only like 300 sq ft, I think (don’t quote me on that). In just a few minutes I can get the house looking amazing, whereas after thirty minutes in the “regular house” you wouldn’t be able to tell I had done anything!

This has really helped my self esteem and sense of accomplishment!

I am so grateful for this little house on wheels. I have so much more peace here. Last week I told Kris that when we plan the cabin build that I 100% DO NOT want it to be big! A tiny house is exactly what we needed…. maybe not this tiny… a few more square feet on each side would be just enough!

And for the last reason I’m loving this trailer…

3. It forces all of us to get outside. No more bumps on a log watching the big screen all day!

In such a small space, we are forced to have the world as our front yard.

And that makes this momma’s heart oh so happy!

-Life is good-

I pray that you too can fill your day with less stress, more family time, and a stop to smell the roses!

Much Love,

Brandy

Ps- this has been about what I personally love about the tiny home lifestyle, but stay tuned to hear about some of the not so pretty things that come from living small. Comment below if you’re interested in hearing the kids’ opinions as well!

update: Check out the not so good things that I dislike about rv life in my post The Ugly- RV Living

Moving update #3

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of crazy! Last weekend we had our painting party. We were able to get about half of our home painted on the inside as well as prepared the kids’ bedrooms for new floors. (Check out The Painting Party Here) There is still so much to do!

A Break in Progress

Taking it day by day is difficult for me sometimes. I’m such a dreamer and can get lost in the clouds as I live in the future. Following the painting party I was hit with reality. Pretty much this whole week I’ve been stuck in bed recovering from the physical excursion from the weekend. It can be hard for people with fibromyalgia to accept that we aren’t normal anymore and to become frustrated with our situation. (Read more about my struggle with this here) This week was one of those weeks. Every day I woke up feeling like I was ran over with a Mack Truck, as I looked around at everything still to be done. How to rest has truly become the hardest lesson for me to learn! If you are a praying person please keep us in your prayers through this transition.

Culling……. AGAIN

Yesterday and today we culled our belongings once again. This is the third time we have purged, and still I was able to get a van FULL of stuff to take to Goodwill!

We are getting down to the nitty-gritty now!

This coming week I will be slowly cleaning the rv and preparing it to begin moving stuff in and getting it organized.

Next weekend we will be having another painting party to try to get the rest of the house finished and Kris will begin putting in the new floors in the last two bedrooms. If you’d like to come help PLEASE reach out to us so we can give you info!

The Good News

On Wednesday our realtors came to look at the progress and to assess where we are and what still remains. We signed all the agreements and did a walk-through.

They (realtors) gave us information on houses near us that are similar in size and date that have recently sold as a way to gauge our selling point. I’m happy to announce that their assessment will give us enough out of the equity (after all fees and commissions!) to start our new life. PRAISE GOD!!!!

Breakdown:

$35,000

-$6000 for the well to be dug

-$15,000 for the yurt kit

-$12,000 to pay off the rv

The remaining will go towards the septic and the driveway and clearing the land to put the rv/yurt.

Our tax refund will cover the gap from house selling.

I’m so excited. Everything is coming together! Everyday it becomes more and more real- THIS IS HAPPENING!

God’s Perfect Timing

I also want to share with you some hard truth. Please don’t get the idea that we are wealthy and that’s how we are able to do this. No, it’s quite the opposite. We are on a time crunch because of our financial situation. Every month since December we are getting further and further into trouble. I am at the point now that each month I can only pay certain bills, while others go unpaid. For example, last month I couldn’t pay our vehicles because I was behind on the mortgage. This month I couldn’t pay the mortgage because I had to make double payments to the vans. Right now I have less than $50 to make it the rest of February for gas and groceries.

BUT…… not to worry. The Lord is faithful and has always and will always take care of us!

That’s what makes this move so much more exciting. We are trusting God and walking in faith, making a huge leap into the vast unknown! The day we pull into our new life we will free up almost $1500 in our budget each month and can begin paying off the vans and getting our self-sustaining life set up.

It’s getting there that is the adventure.

Much Love,

Brandy

“Easy Dinner Series For Large Families”- Easy Street Tacos with Refried Beans/ (Cooking with Fibromyalgia)

As I sit in bed this morning, I can feel the effects of Saturday’s work seeping down into my muscles. It’s as if I just picked myself up after being beat with a baseball bat. My head is foggy, each arm and leg feels like it weighs 10 times it’s normal weight. My muscles are aching and tender. My feet are tingling and burning, and the big joints in my feet and legs (and now my fingers) feel like they are full of peanut butter.

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

One of the big lessons I’ve learned through this trial living with chronic illnesses, is that we all just need to SLOW.DOWN. Maybe you are like I used to be: 100 miles an hour, all day, every day.

Taking kids here and there, always in a rush.

“What’s for dinner?”

“Did I remember to send that paper in for the rehearsal?”

“Oh shoot! I knew I would forget Bambi’s bag next to the front door! Ugggggh. It’s been sitting there all week for me to bring today!”

I know I can’t be the only one out there that was running myself ragged just trying to be a mythological hero named ‘SuperMom’.

No one is worse than ourselves when it comes to criticism. Sometimes I have to tell myself to shut up!

Living with autoimmune and fibromyalgia has taught me a valuable lesson in resting and not being so hard on myself . And believe me, it’s not a pretty sight to get dragged, kicking and screaming, down that path by the Good Lord! Learning how to rest has been the hardest test of my life.

Rest is so important….. so why do I feel like I don’t need it?

I think deep down it’s about pride and trust.

Do I trust that it’s ok for me to take a break?

Can my family handle things without me?

Can my husband take care of the kids without me micromanaging?

I got to the point that I relied too much in my own strength. An empty cup can’t pour out for others something that it doesn’t have. We have to get ourselves filled up.

So, today, I urge you fellow SAHMs, Moms of multiple, and all of you struggling with perfectionism-find some rest today. Get somewhere quiet and private for a little while. Do some things to take care of yourself: take a bath, read some uplifting articles, spend time in prayer… whatever you feel like you should do to rest your mind and body, today.

In going along with taking it easy, here is another meal in my “Easy Dinner Series For Large Families”.

Easy Street-Tacos and Refried Beans

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In preparing for the health repercussions of the painting party, I wanted to be real with you all so that you can see into how I think and deal with fibromyalgia from day-to-day.

Living with chronic illness can be tricky that’s for sure, but it doesn’t have to derail your life.

It just takes a little pre-planning! The day of the painting party I slow cooked a big batch of pinto beans in the crock pot. That night I stored the beans in the refrigerator. I knew from past experiences that anytime I have a large physical output (or deal with a stressful situation) that the next couple of days after will be the roughest on me. In preparation I try to make a few easy meal plans ahead of time. This is one of our favorites! It’s easy, cheap, and delicious!

You Will Need

A large family pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts (6-7 breasts)

Olive oil

Cumin seeds and cumin powder

Chili powder

1 lb of dry pinto beans *(precooked, see explanation below)*

hot sauce

cilantro

radishes

Avocado (3-4)

salt and pepper

tortilla shells (bought or homemade work well- here’s a link to the recipe I use for homemade flour tortilla shells. This will make the recipe more labor intensive, so either make ahead or skip it and pick up a pack at the grocery)

 

 

What To Do

First I get the pan heated well on medium-high, then add the oil. While the pan is heating up I cut the chicken breasts into long thin slices.

I used a large family pack of boneless skinless breasts for this, but you could also use a bag or two of the Tyson fajita chicken that is precooked and just skip the chicken parts of this recipe (I like to use fresh instead of precooked as much as possible to avoid all the extra preservatives and fillers)

* BEAN NOTE: Once the chicken is going I got my beans from the fridge that I had cooked the day before. I froze half of the portion for another quick meal later and used half for this recipe. (making more than necessary and freezing half for later is a big secret I use for cooking for a big family)*

Add the beans into a pot, coating the bottom well with olive oil, and set the heat to medium.

Next, I added the seasonings cumin seeds, cumin powder, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste to the chicken.

Cumin powder and chili powder, plus salt and pepper to taste in the beans.

Keep stirring both dishes until everything is well combined, stirring frequently during the cooking process, until the beans are well heated and mushy and the chicken has cooked out most of the liquid..

While everything is cooking, I prepare the toppings. Wash cilantro and radishes well. Chop up the cilantro and slice the radishes. I usually serve this meal with sliced avocado as well, but didn’t have any this time…..so add avocado to yours 🙂

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At this point I tasted everything and decided to add more cumin and chili powder to both dishes, and I stirred in hot sauce to the beans.

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And that’s it!

A 30 minute meal, made from fresh whole ingredients for a large family.

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Easy Dinner Series For Large Families: #1 Lemon-Garlic Pasta with Spinach

I make this dish on a regular basis. It’s a great recipe for those busy nights when you want a quick meal, but still want it to be on the healthy side. We are total foodies, so one thing that I don’t like to skimp on is a homemade fresh meal. In reality, that doesn’t always happen (pb&j night anybody?). Having fibromyalgia has greatly changed the way I have to deal with dinner. Cooking has always been a huge hobby for me, but I have had to make some adjustments. I am most definitely not “Betty Crocker”, but planning ahead of time can make a dinner a success instead of a burden.

I like to have a list of cheap, easy meals that I can make that everyone enjoys but doesn’t take a lot of effort. That’s a tall order for a family of 6 on busy nights or if you struggle with chronic illness.

I would like to share some of those quick, healthy, cheap, and easy dinners with you in a series called “Easy Dinners For Large Families”. If you enjoy this, please make sure that you subscribe so that you will get notified each time I post something new..And keep your eye out for #2 coming next week!

Lemon Garlic Pasta with Spinach

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What You Need:

2 lemons (juice and zest)

5 tsp Italian Seasoning

2 lbs of pasta (spaghetti noodles)

8 TBSP Salted Butter

2 TBSP Olive oil

1 tsp pepper

2-3 heaping TBSP of minced garlic

2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup water (held back from noodles after draining)

4 pinches of crushed red pepper  (2 if you don’t like a little kick)

24 oz Spinach (1.5 bags)

Start your water on high for the pasta and add some salt. While you wait for the water to boil go ahead and prepare your lemons- wash and then juice each lemon and collect the lemon zest

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Once your water is boiling add the pasta and the oil (2 TBSP). Turn the heat down to medium and make sure to stir the noodles occasionally as they cook.

Now to start the base- Get a big skillet or pan, on medium heat and add your butter. Once the butter is about halfway melted add the garlic and the lemon zest. Cook this for a couple of minutes while moving around the butter and garlic/zest in the pan. Next add the red pepper flakes, Italian seasonings, lemon pepper, salt, and pepper.

 

Drain the pasta once finished, adding 1/4 cup of the water into the seasoning pan, along with half of the spinach and lemon juice.      (Note: I always have spinach frozen in our freezer, whether from our garden or from the grocery. The easiest way to store kale and spinach is to freeze it. I just pull it out to defrost when I begin preparing for the recipe)

Stir the spinach until wilted and add the pasta. Cover, stirring every 5 minutes and adding the remaining spinach by the handful, until everything is well combined and the spinach is wilted.

Serve immediately with olive oil and Parmesan cheese on the side, as desired.

I usually serve this with a side salad (Italian) and buttered/garlic bread or broccoli and grapes. Either of those go quite nicely.

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This serves about 10 people with leftovers.

 

A Slow Day with Fibromyalgia

Well I knew this day would come when Kris told me to pull the kids out of public school for good.

This morning I woke up around 7 am and I could feel the heaviness in my body and the fogginess in my mind.

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

If you don’t have fibromyalgia then it’s hard to explain, but if you do it’s a feeling we know all to well. The best way to describe it is how you feel that first day you wake up with a legitimate case of the flu. Not a bad cold, the REAL flu. Your body feels like it weighs a thousand pounds, every movement takes all the effort you can muster, and your mind feels like it has been drugged. It’s almost like you can’t see clearly or think clearly. EVERYTHING is a huge effort, even just getting out of bed.

So this morning that’s how I woke up feeling. Most times when a fibro-sufferer wakes up in a flare (that’s what we call these episodes) we just go back to sleep. This morning Trayce came in my room, checking on me since it was already 2 hours past when we’ve been starting our school day. My entire bed was wet, along with my hair and clothes, from the sweats I get with the flares. I knew today was one of those days that I struggle just to exist.

Thank God that I gave the kids instructions ahead of time for how to function when mommy has bad days. Daelynn and Trayce went ahead and made breakfast for themselves and for Elijah. They cleaned up a little and did their morning chores. Trayce let me know that he went ahead and did some of his math and some of his grammar that he didn’t need help on.

Planning ahead of time for the bad days has been one of those things that I’m so grateful that I did BEFORE it happens.

Another thing I do to prepare is how I lay out my meal plans each week.

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Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

I plan each week to cook dinner for two days in a row. On the third day we have “leftover night” or “find your own food” night. I have a large family and so I make large amounts of food. We usually always have left over food from dinner. So on every third day we pull out everything in the fridge from the last two nights and warm it all up for dinner. In the case that dinner was a hit and there’s not much left over it becomes a “find your own food night “. On those nights pretty much anything is up for grabs that isn’t needed for dinner on other nights. Think sandwiches, cereal, oatmeal, etc.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This system has been such a blessing to me because I don’t wear myself out cooking huge meals every single day, as well as how it helps me whenever I’m not feeling well. Any of the bigger kids can handle warming up food or making sandwiches. Even Elijah can pour himself a bowl of cereal or make himself a sandwich.

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Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com

I feel like teaching our kids how to do simple things for themselves as well as having conversations beforehand to prepare them for what is expected of them even if mom isn’t supervising, is a major step in teaching them self-sufficiency and maturity.

Isn’t it our whole goal to teach them how to be great adults, loving the Lord and serving others unselfishly?

As I sit here in my bed at 1pm I can rest peacefully knowing that I’ve prepared my family well.

If you have fibromyalgia how do you prepare for those bad days? Let’s share some ideas in the comments to help each other out!

Much Love,

Brandy